What DID happen when BMW/CCC Roundel compared the Passport 7500 to a $400 radar detector?? Updated 8/12/01 - And what's up with Radartest.com(edy)? Updates near bottom of page...

Escort's latest magazine ads for their Passport 7500 are headlined "What happened when ROUNDEL compared the new Passport 7500 to a $400 radar detector?" How about an honest answer to that question? Here goes: For one thing, based on the headline, one would reasonably infer that ROUNDEL conducted some sort of comparison test. Right? Here is a quote taken from this 'comparison' article: "We weren't equipped to do any comparison testing or range-of-warning measurement, so this review is purely subjective." So, what happened when Roundel compared Escort to a $400 detector? They tell you in their own words - they did NOT compare the Escort to ANYTHING! To borrow a line from the beer commercial, it don't get any better than this. In fact, it kinda gets worse...

First - the $400 unit they refer to (the Valentine One, we later find out) is not merely a radar detector, but a LOCATOR, which the Escort is not - thus they effectively deny that there is another, more sophisticated class of radar device with some justification for that $400 price tag. To admit there is a more advanced type of radar device wouldn't be conducive to their 'comparison' however.

Secondly, while ROUNDEL did briefly mention the Valentine One in the Passport 7500 article, it was not a comparison article by any stretch of the imagination. There were no specifics, no measurements, no side-by-side tests, nothing of the kind. The ROUNDEL article was titled "Passport 7500 Radar and Laser Detector". Period. It was all of ten paragraphs long and was basically an impression of the 7500.

Where the Valentine One WAS mentioned in the ROUNDEL article was only in the eighth and ninth paragraphs, in a brief discussion of whether blocking "false" signals might also block early warning of real radar threats. Escort's ad quotes the article where it says "The Passport seemed much more adept at weeding out false sources" (compared to the Valentine One). However, Escort somehow managed to leave out the sentences which follow that quote: "Of course, as Mike Valentine would no doubt point out, any radar signal is a potential speed trap. He's right: A savvy cop will run X band radar in a known "falsing" area. Some people want to know about all potential police radar; others would rather have fewer false alarms." This is the extent of the "comparison" to that "$400 radar detector" - a difference in philosophy between detecting everything, and possibly missing a genuine radar threat.

Given that the theme of the ad is a purported ROUNDEL comparison between the Passport and the "$400 detector", one might easily assume that the ad's bold-font ROUNDEL quotes, scattered throughout, highlight ways that the Passport compared favorably to the other "detector" in the alleged "comparison". But these quotes are virtually devoid of any relevance or comparison content. Such as:

QUOTE: "It's a very sophisticated little black box". Which radar device is NOT a sophisticated little box? Any comparisons there? No.

QUOTE: "The Passport 7500 is packed with a unique array of features and technology not found in any other detector." The same can be said of Valentine One - or most any other radar 'detector' for that matter. Any real comparison to any other unit? None.

QUOTE: "Amazingly, it can display radar warning for up to eight sources simultaneously, identifying the band and strength of each signal." ROUNDEL isn't quite accurate here; the 7500 can display relative signal strengths for up to two KA, two K, and four X band signals simultaneously, using tiny stacked LED's. In the absence of a device like the Valentine, this feature might indeed be deemed "amazing"; however it pales in contrast to the Valentine's radar locating and signal counting abilities. Had the ROUNDEL article actually been a comparison, it would have had to mention the Valentine's truly unique feature of counting multiple signals and indicating the direction of their source. No such mention was made - after all, the ROUNDEL article was about the Passport - and essentially nothing else.

QUOTE: "The most alluring feature is that its programming options enable full customization for the user's purposes." No mention of the "$400 detector" here either; one would hope the Passport's most alluring feature would be equal or superior radar protection at a lower price. Yes, the pilot light can be programmed six ways, one can select a "fast power-up"; there are a number of adjustable settings which have nothing to do with the performance of the unit at protecting a driver against police radar.

A true comparison as the headline clearly implies, would have had to include distance detection measurements of the Passport versus the Valentine on various radar bands; there would have had to be mention of the signal counter and locating abilities of the Valentine. A true comparison would also have to include mention of whether the 7500 is upgradeable (the V1 is); there would have to be testing to determine if the 7500 is invisible to the VG2 gun (which the V1 is). Obviously, the ad's headline is intentionally misleading; the referenced comparison never happened. Perhaps ROUNDEL ought to contact Escort and ask them to not use their article in such misleading advertising.

Escort is also running a similar flashing ad on the Internet - "What Happened When Roundel... etc." beneath which it says "Click here to find out!" Clicking that link brings you to a place from where you can order a Passport - but you have to hunt for the magazine article they feature in the flashing ad. If it was indeed a comparison as they claim, and if their unit had equaled or bested the Valentine, that information would be on their homepage rather than tucked away behind their small-font "library" link. Unfortunately, they have for some reason failed to include any genuine radar 'detector' test articles in their library. Why? Guess.

Other Escort advertising is similarly misleading. There was an advertisement for the cordless Escort Solo not long ago - Escort cited this unit as having "Test Winning Performance!" and their current advertising still refers to it as a "Car and Driver magazine test winner." They don't tell you that the Solo won a test of CORDLESS radar detectors, none of which were particularly good. In the earlier full-page Solo ad they included this quote from a C&D test of premium radar devices: "Its cordless capability and programmable customizing are endearing." However, they left out these additional quotes from the same C&D test:

"Escort claims the Solo has a "Smartshield VG-2 rejection system," but the detector bloodhound can smell a Solo coming from nearly three quarters of a mile away." (Car&Driver)

"The Solo's X- and K-band highway sensitivity was acceptable, but this detector's ability to pick up Ka-band is weak. The Solo could not detect instant on Ka-band radar until it was 450 feet away. If our test setup were a real trap, that would be too close." (Car&Driver)

"The Solo's low selectivity score is due to its modest overall sensitivity." (Car&Driver)

This is the unit they advertise as having 'Test Winning' performance. Well, in this particular test it scored 48 points out of a possible 100. Another detector bested it by eight points, and a certain "$400 radar detector", the Valentine One, scored 97 points in that same test. Test winning performance? More like thick-sliced baloney. If you take the ad at its word, you will be seriously misinformed.

It's too bad that this company is not the same Escort as the one which brought out the classic original Escort nearly twenty years ago - back then, they could stand on honest advertising claims and meaningful citations in their advertising. Now, the name of the game is to sell as many units as possible. Other radar unit companies do not have to resort to the ol' shell game to get you to buy their product.

Escort may well have some worthwhile radar detectors; why don't they advertise them honestly on their merits instead of resorting to advertising baloney? Probably the answer to that is that their advertising agency knows that the public skims over such ads, taking them at face value and not looking a bit deeper to see what they really do or do not say about the product.

Finally: the purpose of this page is not to compare any radar device to any other, or to knock one vs. another - it is to highlight advertising that conveys false impressions and mis-information. Whether one spends $229 or $399 for a radar device, he or she has a right to make the buying decision based on honest information, not advertising baloney. Let the buyer beware. Read all advertising carefully - and then CHECK IT OUT - whether it's for Escort or any other item you see in an ad.


UPDATE: The latest Passport ads tout the test results of a website called radartest.com. The site's resident 'expert', Craig Peterson, begins the tests by calling the Valentine One "by far the largest and heaviest unit" among those tested. Somehow in his thorough testing and scientific accuracy, he did not notice that the Passport (his favorite!) is heavier than the Valentine One. He thus starts off his 'test' with a complete error which indicates he did not even take a measurement to substantiate his remark. Regarding the V-1 being 'by far the largest', it is the shortest, it is 1/10 of an inch thicker than the others, but it is the widest - yet hardly the massive 'by far the largest' one would expect. It gets no better after this. Personally, I have benefitted more times than I can count from the V-1's features, especially its bogey counter AND the directional locator, things Mr. Peterson minimizes and which his top choices do not have. Nothing in his tests at radartest.com can change my experience of eight years, that the V-1's features elevate it far above 'detectors' no matter even if they can talk, sing, whistle, vibrate, hum, belch or fart their warnings.

After Mr. Peterson picked a radar unit for a company he had consulted for as 'best' in a test in Automobile magazine, the magazine received a large number of letters accusing him of bias. He replied that such a suggestion was 'nonsense' because he had worked as a consultant to EVERY major radar detector company. He probably just forgot that he hadn't worked for Valentine, that must be it. He forgot that when he has approached them, they have repeatedly said 'no thank you.' In any case, he has not worked for every major company, as he states. Perhaps someone can remind him.

I know that advertising and marketing involve puffery, or playing a few games with the numbers, or being selective about which truth is told. I am not going to say that there is anything any different going on at radartest.com than at many other places. I don't mind someone being biased so long as they aren't telling me they aren't biased. Unfortunately, that is what I see at radartest. However, I as the author of this page would suggest you do something very reasonable that Mike Valentine suggests - namely, get a Valentine One AND a Passport. They both come with 30-day return policies. Try them out - one at a time, because mounting two units in a car together will give false results due to interference between them. Keep the one that did a better job for you and send the other one back. Okay, now I'll admit it, I am biased, at least in favor of truth and accuracy. And I admit I like my Valentine One - I have used many 'detectors', every one of them is worthless compared to the V-1 with its locator and bogey counter and its other advantages. Frankly, I would not trade my 7 year old Valentine for the whole lineup of detectors Mr. Peterson rates so highly. Maybe you will agree with Mr. Peterson. Maybe you will agree with me. It costs nothing to try them both out because you can send either or both of them back. So don't believe anything but your own results; no matter what I or Mike Valentine or Craig Peterson or anyone has to say, it won't mean as much to you as your own testing will. So do it!

support links to the information on this page -

Passport 7500 Roundel Review: Read the "comparison" yourself
Rating the High-End Detectors - 3000 GT Online: Read the Car & Driver test including the cordless, "test winning" (?) Solo
V1 Hater - The Same Old Story One More Time: Let Mike Valentine tell you his side of the radartest.com story. Short, sweet, and eye-opening.

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If you have any comments, you may e-mail me at: r@nike3.com Please be advised that I really don't want to argue about one radar device versus another - but if you agree or disagree with me about the forthrightness of the advertising I have pointed out, then sure, send me a note...!

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